Grantee Spotlight Missouri Veterans Endeavor
After months, and even years, of service to their country, veterans return home to family and civilian life; for some, the transition can be difficult. Many return with physical scars, and almost a quarter return with emotional and mental scars as well. In deployment, soldiers experience very long periods of extended absence from comfort, security, families, and breaks. When it comes time to return home, these veterans need well-deserved time to adjust and adapt once again to both civilian life and family life. Even if away for a couple of months, family life can become unfamiliar to the veteran. Everyone matures naturally, but independent of each other, and the veteran has to reintegrate to the family’s life, and vice versa. In some cases, as a result of combat stress, brain injuries from IEDs, repeated deployments, and rising use of drugs and alcohol, soldiers return from service to find themselves homeless. Self-respect is diminished, with the loss of a home, job, or family. So where can these veterans go who return to a world they no longer know and to a family who no longer recognizes them?
Missouri Veterans Endeavor (“MOVE”) is a community for homeless veterans and their families, where veterans live among their peers in a secure and sober environment with on-site counseling services available 24/7. The long-term supportive housing service consists of twenty-one, two-bedroom units, and the support to overcome barriers to find a home for a better future. Currently, MOVE is home to twenty-five veterans, three veteran spouses, and eight children/dependents on the site and in a few apartments scattered throughout the community. MOVE’s mission is to provide housing to at-risk and homeless veterans and their families.
Every veteran that comes to MOVE works with a caseworker to develop an individualized action plan for themselves and their families to address their specific obstacles and goals. For those veterans who are seeking employment, staff assist with their resumes, tracking down job leads, interviewing techniques, and appropriate appearance and engagement for a particular job opportunity. Some veterans may already be in the workforce, so along with their families, they receive help with more incremental objectives, such as school enrollment or after school activities for their children. MOVE also provides sobriety support, family or individual therapy, and/or group therapy/activities for those veterans who may need more mental health support. The goal of MOVE’s case managers is to work with struggling veterans to rediscover their sense of purpose through healthy, independent living. MOVE also recognizes the need for veterans and their families to have fun, so they host field trips and outside events like kayaking, movie days, trips to the zoo and museums, sporting events, singing class, and art programs. Community service projects are offered throughout the year to give veterans a sense of purpose and optimism through giving back to their community.
The capable staff at MOVE reinforces camaraderie and friendship. The veteran is encouraged to find activities to get involved to find her/his sense of purpose again. As one veteran stated, “I’m currently in school working to become a music teacher. I don’t know where I would be without MOVE.” For more information about Missouri Veterans Endeavor, please visit their website: www.move-stl.org.